“Dodge Different.” The slogan couldn’t be more dead on. The second annual Dakota R/T Club National Meet was like no other event we’ve been to. Instead of being dulled by lazy show trucks sitting motionless in a hot parking lot, this three-day event, held in June in Topeka, Kansas, was full of action, with everything from drag racing to burnout contests to hailstorms.

The Dakota R/T Club has been around for barely two years and was formed entirely over the Internet. Even though this club is in its infancy, its members have already put together an event that puts bigger and longer-standing clubs to shame. The club has drawn in an impressive number of highly modified trucks and extremely devoted and enthusiastic members. Everybody drove their R/Ts to the meet, with many members traveling more than 1,000 miles one way! Their trucks are fast, their owners are fearless, and their attitudes are awesome.

Things got going early Friday at the Hartland Park dragstrip. When we saw the parking lot empty as the track called for tech inspection, we knew that we were in for some awesome racing. Being accustomed to orbital buffers and chamois, our jaws dropped in a big goofy grin as we watched the Dakota R/T members whip out floor jacks, swap on slicks, add race gas, swap belts, and remove tonneau covers and tailgates to shed weight. We were a little confused why the pits were so empty, but then we realized everybody had gone racing, so we went to watch the action. Everybody raced.

The “test and tune” lasted a couple of hours and was followed by a hellacious burnout contest. All of the participants in the burnout contest had driven hundreds of miles to get to Topeka and here they were totally thrashing on their trucks like they were in rental cars. These guys were the most enthusiastic group of burnout junkies we’ve ever seen. They originally were given 30 seconds to burn off as much rubber as possible, but after a brief review, everybody agreed that a full minute was absolutely necessary to satisfy that violent smoky fetish that all R/T club members seem to be afflicted with. The burnout contest highlights included one engine fire and one bare ass. There was never a dull moment at this three day event!

After the burnout contest, the bracket racing began. The trucks were separated into three classes: the 15-second-and-higher class, the 14.99-to-13.01 class, and the 13-second-and-lower class. That’s right, there were 12-second trucks that drove hundreds of miles to race in Topeka.

As the sun set, everybody headed back to the hotel for the club banquet. Retired Mopar Performance hero/engineer and guest speaker, Larry Shepard, gave an awesome speech about how to get more “hoss-powa” out of the 5.9 powerplant, and he blew everyone away with his ability to spout off any part number for any Mopar Performance part you could dream up. Many club members stayed afterward to ask Shepard individual questions about their specific applications. After dinner some went to bed, but most had too much mopar-adrenaline in their system to sleep. Everybody headed out to the parking lot to party, bench race, street race, and get into trouble until the sun rose.

Luckily for the parking lot partiers, Saturday morning’s Speedway track event had been canceled due to some sort of Mopar discrimination/envy/jealousy (we don’t know why the oval track canceled on the club last minute). The rest of the day was spent recuperating and primping the trucks (scraping off the rubber) for the local cruise night.

The theme of the three-day event in Topeka was “Raging Tornados,” and dang it if we didn’t almost run into one! Just about the time everybody had found a spot at the cruise in, opened their hood, and grabbed a quick glance at all the other cool rides, the storm clouds flooded overhead and it became a mad scramble to find some sort of shelter. No garage could possibly hold the 125 trucks in attendance, but luckily there was a vacant barn that provided shelter to the just-buffed-and-polished Mopars. The biggest drawback to parking in a barn was all the dust. Hmm…hail or dust? The R/T club members wisely chose the latter. After the storm let up it was pizza time. Afterwards, the sober members warmed up their nitrous bottles for some late-night street racing action, while the rest waxed their trucks, grateful for the break from the hot sun and rain.

Sunday morning was the show ’n’ shine at the Topeka Air Combat Museum. Before lunch, there was a lowest ride contest and sound-off contest. The Dakota R/T Club executive board put together an impressive giveaway so that every member left with a special Mopar goodie. We’re not talking ordinary goodies like T-shirts; we’re talking nitrous kits, performance cylinder heads, and shaker hoods.

There was a small awards ceremony held after the giveaway and then everybody peeled out of the driveway for the long voyage home with lead feet, bald tires, and the stench of a weekend well spent. We had a blast and can’t wait for next year! To get more information about the Dakota R/T Club, visit www.dakotart.com.